Vagrant Story, One Of The Greatest Jrpgs Ever, Turns 20, Vagrant Story, the best Japanese role-playing games of all time, Vagrant Story was developed,

Vagrant Story, one of the best Japanese role-playing games of all time, turns 20 today.

It first launched in Japan on PSone on 10th February 2000, right at the tailend of the console's lifecycle and just a month before Sony released the PS2.

Vagrant Story was developed by Squaresoft (what would later become Square Enix). More specifically it was developed by Yasumi Matsuno and therefore the team behind Final Fantasy Tactics, and while it never achieved the same level of success as some of the company's other PSone JRPGs, like Final Fantasy 7, it's considered by some to be the best of the bunch.

Vagrant Story was praised for its stunning visuals, atmosphere, rewarding combat system and engrossing story. You play Ashley Riot, a member of a peacekeeping force hot on the heels of a cult leader named Sydney Losstarot. The setting is Leá Monde, a beautifully-realised French city-inspired 3D world.

Writing in a very Vagrant Story retrospective for Eurogamer, Simon Parkin called the game "a daring, ambitious trek then, one that woos the susceptive mind with its riddle and consequence while confounding the impatient. And quite this, proof of what a talented team can uncover when allowed off the leash, given an opportunity to make away from the shackles of iteration and influence; to create instead of , Losstarot-style, re-conjure".

There's a superb Twitter thread on Vagrant Story by @dreamboum that's well worth finding out , too. It includes a lot of tidbits on its development, and the way Matsuno and his team were ready to get such a lot out of the PSone.

Vagrant Story is 20 years old! It is not only in the conversation as the best game Square has ever made, it is a towering achievement of the genre both at an artistic and technical level. Here I will share some details about the game that even Hideo Kojima was jealous of ⬇️⬇️⬇️
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Vagrant Story is often touted as one of, if not the most technically impressive game on the PS1, far above Metal Gear Solid 1. However, the most impressive thing was that this full 3D game was done primarily by people who had no experience with 3D!
The Vagrant Story team was the Final Fantasy Tactics team, which was itself an incredible showcase of 2D pixel art. These people tackled 3D with only their experience on 2D under their belt, and yet this skill was enough to create a timeless game that is still impressive today
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One aspect in which their experience in 2D helped them is in creating 3D models. Being a full 3D game, each character had limited memory and polygon count to work with. In fact, characters had less than half of the polygon count of Final Fantasy VII and VIII. 700 to 320!
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Despite having less than half of the polygon count of FFVII and FFVIII for characters, you can check for yourself how much more expressive and detailed the 3D models of Vagrant Story can be in comparison. This feat was done by 2D artists using every trick up their sleeve.
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This doesn't even stop there. Compared to another juggernaut of its time, Vagrant Story managed to feature eyes and animate mouths instead of featuring head bobs to simulate a conversation.
Just look at the difference in quality! The way her mouth animates! The way her head moves alongside her eyes to look at Ashley! The distinct textures of her clothes! To say nothing of the diffused lighting! It still floors me to this day.
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This was only possible because an artist with a background in pixel art took it upon himself to do all the facial expressions, and animate mouths with sub-pixel shading. His name is Eichiro Nakatsu.

He was most recently the art director of Dragon Quest XI.
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As if all of that wasn't enough, they had also simulated lighting displaying on 3D models. How so? By creating a second set of 3D models, brightening them up, and slightly moving them to the direction of the light.

Their ingenuity knew no bounds.
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But the characters would be nothing without a background to set them in. And that's where Vagrant Story's environment comes in. An extremely impressive showcase that simulated a lighting environment despite not having a lighting engine.
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The artistry on display is still absurd to this day. They went on a trip to Saint-Emilion in France and used it as a framework for the city of Leá Monde. A magnificent and lush area that hides some of Ivalice's darkest secrets in its underbelly.
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So, here's to Vagrant Story, still young at just 20 years old. Cheers!


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